Sunday, July 01, 2012

The True Characteristics of a Pharisee!

Are Today’s Pharisees simply wayward Christians, or members of the Synagogue of Satan?     

Many people have accused me of being “Anti-Semitic” because I question the motives of those who call themselves Christian Zionists, or point out that there exists a sinister group of diabolical people who are intent on ridding the world of the Disciples of Christ in their journey and quest of world domination. They especially attack me when I call these people “Pharisees.” They say that Pharisees are merely the old priests of the Law mentioned throughout the New Testament. At best, they say, that the word Pharisee can be used as an example of Christian hypocrites.

There were four schools of thought in Jesus’ day. From the Bible we see the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the Zealots. From religious history we also see the Essenes. The Pharisees were the strictest sect of Jews as Paul states in Acts 26:5. Their very name meant “set apart.” However, all too often they clung to their own laws and traditions instead of God’s Law. Jesus rebuked them many a time as they were hypocrites and did not love truth nor followed it.

Why is it important to know about the Pharisees? Well, in Matt. 5:20 Jesus said:

“For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

The following were the main characteristics of the Pharisees:

(1) They threw aside God’s commandments and made the commandments of men and traditions into doctrines. (Mark 7:7-9).

(2) They were more concerned with outer purity rather than the purity of the heart. Jesus said that they cleaned the inside of the cup but inside their hearts were full of wickedness! (See Luke 11:39; Matt. 23:25, 27, and 28).

(3) They tithed on herbs, which is good but more important matters like justice and the love for God were overlooked. (See Luke 11:32; Matt. 23:23, 24). They strained out a gnat but they swallowed a camel. ((Matt 23:24)

(4) They loved the highest seats and public greetings in the market because they were selfish and wanted to be seen by people, to the point of enlarging the borders of their clothes. (Luke 11:43; Matt. 23:5-10; Mark 12:38)

(5) They made people fall. Jesus said that they were like hidden graves that made unsuspecting people fall in. (Luke 11:44).

(6) They did not want people to be healed on the Sabbath that God made for man but yet they would take out their ox if it fell in a pit on Sabbath. (Matt. 13:11-17).

(7) They burdened people with unnecessary traditions and did not raise a finger to help. (Luke 11:46; Matt. 23:4)

(8) They built the sepulchers of the prophets that their own ancestors killed. (Luke 11:47, 48; Matt. 23:29-31). In fact they killed Jesus. (See Matt. 12:14; 21:33-46; Matt. 27:20-22).

(9) They took away the key of knowledge. They blocked people from getting into heaven and they themselves did not get in. (Matt. 23:13, Luke 11:52; John 12:42, 43)

(10) They devoured widows’ houses! (Matt. 23:14)

(11) They said long prayers pretending that they were righteous. (Matt. 23:14)

(12) They went on land and sea to convert people and they made those converts twice a child of hell as themselves! (Matt. 23:15)

(13) They forbade people from swearing by the gold of the temple but they swore by the temple itself! (Matt. 23:16, 17)

(14) They talked and do not did not do anything. (Matt 23:3). They even praised God with their lips and their heart was far from Him. (Matt. 7:6).

(15) They were fools, blind guides and hypocrites. (Matt 23:16-25; Luke 11:44, 46; 12:1-3). John the Baptist called them vipers (Matt. 3:7).

(16) They loved to tempt, accuse and oppose Jesus. (Matt. 16:1; 19:3; Mark 8:11; 10:2; 12:13; Luke 6:7). They continuously tried to entangle Him in His talk (Matt. 22:15). Paul, who was a Pharisee, told of his own nature before his conversion:

"I (Paul) verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth."

So when he came on the scene after Jesus' ascension he persecuted the Christian Church.

(17) They asked for a sign to believe when many were already given. If given yet another sign they would not believe. (Luke 22:66, 67). Note that the incident mentioned in the given text was after three and a half years of Jesus working miracles, healing all types of diseases and even raising the dead!

(18) There is hope even for “Pharisees”. Acts 6:7 tells us what happened after Jesus went back to Heaven and His disciples preached after being filled with the Holy Spirit. It says:

“And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.”

The Pharisee’s Prayer
Jesus told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortionist, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.

The Pharisees had religion down. They dressed the part, looked the part, made up ridiculous rules and strove to follow them, assured that by following them, they were achieving holiness.

Jesus called them “whitewashed tombs.” They were beautiful on the outside; on the inside, they were full of dead people’s bones. (Matthew 23:27) Jesus wasn’t confused by them. He wasn’t tricked. He wasn’t fooled. He called them out. He said they were full of “all uncleanness.”

All of their religion got them absolutely nowhere with Christ. He wasn’t impressed. He knew they were hypocrites.
The Pharisee, in his prayer, commended himself to God. He gave God a little reminder of his own greatness. He pointed out the actions he did that he was sure earned him favor with God. He pointed out that he tithed, that he fasted. The Pharisee thanked God that he was not like the tax collector. The Pharisee thanked God that he was not an adulterer, which he was not an extortioner, which he was not unjust, that he was not like other men. He thanked God that he was better than anyone else. Because he was, right? He did all the right things. He said all the right things. These things made him better, right?

All our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. (Isaiah 64:6)
I know Pharisees. They exist in modern times. They believe that by dressing a certain way, speaking a certain way, reading a certain way, walking a certain way, and listening a certain way, they earn more favor with God than the average person. They believe that true holiness is found in meeting an exceptionally high biblical standard. This standard, however, is never actually found in the Bible, contrary to what they may believe. It’s simply not there.
And so they conform. They mold themselves to fit the image they believe the Bible gives of true Christianity, of holiness. Over time, their views become more absurd and more extreme. The saddest part to me is this: they become more like the Pharisee in that they point at others who do not hold to their standard and say, “I’m glad I am not like that guy. I am glad that I have reached a level of holiness that man will never achieve. I am glad that I have never stolen, committed adultery, blasphemed, or lied. I am thankful that I tithe and fast. Thanks be to God that I am such a good person.” The modern Pharisee will pat himself on the back and go on his way unchanged, neglecting the fact that his best is merely putrefied, and moldy rags. He will neglect the fact that while, no, he isn’t committing adultery, he is judging his brother who is made in the image of God. He is partaking in pride. He is gluttonous. He is wrong.

The tax collector got it. He realized that he didn’t have to hold himself to a superficial standard, that God didn’t expect him to ever attain holiness through works. He realized that he could never attain salvation through works, either. He realized that he was dust, that his righteousness was putrefied rags. And so he could not even lift his eyes toward heaven. He merely begged God for mercy for his sinful, broken, depraved, unholy self.

Woes on the Pharisees and the Experts in the Law-

3 When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. 38 But the Pharisee was surprised when he noticed that Jesus did not first wash before the meal. 39 Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.

42 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.

43 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and respectful greetings in the marketplaces. 

44 “Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which people walk over without knowing it.” 

45 One of the experts in the law answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also.”

46 Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.

 47 “Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your ancestors who killed them. 48 So you testify that you approve of what your ancestors did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs. 49 Because of this, God in his wisdom said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.’ 50 Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all.

52 “Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.” 53 When Jesus went outside, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to oppose him fiercely and to besiege him with questions, 54 waiting to catch him in something he might say, (Luke 11:37-53).

Most Christians use all of the above and apply it solely to hypocritical members of the church.  However based on Jesus’ own words, Jesus actually accuses the Pharisees of much greater sins than practicing the traditions of men. He also accused them of being descendants of those who murdered the prophets as we see in Revelation 2:9: 

I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan." 

We also see this in Revelation 3:9, when He speaks again directly to the Pharisees:

I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you!"

While the incessant debate rages on, concerning who is Israel, who is a Jew, who is a Pharisee, Jesus speaking directly to the Pharisees told them what distinguishes a person from being a member of His household, and who is not.

There are only two types of people in this world, those who believe and follow Him and His word, and those who don’t. Obviously, those who call themselves Jew, Israeli, Messianic or Zionist, who actively (and deceptively) are involved in crimes against humanity, breaking all of God’s commandments, and bent on world domination can technically and theoretically be called a “Pharisee” because they oppose Jesus Christ!  

If being a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, who questions any activity, motive or purpose that goes against God’s will, incites the phrase, “Anti-Semite,” so be it. Jesus was not afraid to question the motives of the Pharisees. Neither should His followers. Jesus looked them squarely in the face and told them what is required to be a member of His chosen people:

31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching,(AK) you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”(AL)

33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants (AM) and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.(AN) 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever.(AO) 36 So if the Son sets you free,(AP) you will be free indeed. 37 I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me,(AQ) because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence,(AR) and you do what you have heard from your father.”(AS)

39 “Abraham is our father,” they answered.  

“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do the things Abraham did. 40 As it is, you are determined to kill me,(AU) a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God.(AV) Abraham did not do such things. 41 You are doing the things your own father does.”(AW)

“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”(AX)

The Children of the Devil

42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me,(AY) for I came from God(AZ) and now am here. I have not come on my own;(BA) but he sent me.(BB) 43 Why is my language not clear to you, because you are unable to hear what I say? 44 You belong to your father, the devil,(BC) and you want to carry out your father’s desire.(BD) He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.(BE) 45 Yet because I tell the truth,(BF) you do not believe me! 46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 He who belongs to God hears what God says.(BG) The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”

The Claims of Jesus About Himself

48 The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan(BH) and demon-possessed?”(BI)

49 “I am not possessed by a demon,” said Jesus, “but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. 50 I am not seeking glory for myself;(BJ) but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 I tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.”(BK)

52 At this the Jews exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed!(BL) Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that if anyone keeps your word, he will never taste death. 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham?(BM) He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?”

54 Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself,(BN) my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me.(BO) 55 Though you do not know him,(BP) I know him.(BQ) If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and keep his word.(BR) 56 Your father Abraham(BS) rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it(BT) and was glad.”

57 “You are not yet fifty years old,” the Jews said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”

58 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born,(BU) I am!”(BV) 59 At this, they picked up stones to stone him,(BW) but Jesus hid himself,(BX) slipping away from the temple grounds, (John 8:31-58).

Therefore, these bickering to heated debates concerning Israel and the Church, who is a Jew, who are God’s Chosen Children, who is an “Anti-Semite” can be resolved by understanding there are not various interpretations of God’s word that need be opined nor proffered. You are either with Christ, or you are not!

Obviously, those who willingly or unwittingly support criminal behavior of any kind, as those Christian Zionists (such as John Hagee, Hal Lindsey, Tim LaHaye and millions of their followers) who support the rogue state of Israel because they believe they are God’s chosen people (who will someday repent of their sins), are not on God’s side, whatsoever!

Many may claim to be Christian or Messianic who believe in Jesus Christ, and many can be self-proclaimed Israeli, Jew and Zionists, who do not believe Jesus is the true Messiah. Regardless, if they oppose the true word of God and support activities that go against His will, do qualify and can be called “Pharisee”, whether they like it or not!

For information about Joe Ortiz' books, click on The End Times Passover and Why Christians Will Suffer Great Tribulation. To access his web sites and blogs, please click on Joe Ortiz.
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